The highest carrying capacity for carry-on bags that are also easy to transport comes from small upright rolling suitcases, and the best lightweight carry on luggage with wheels are ideal for packing everything you need for a short trip without having to lug them around on your shoulder. If all your travel possessions for the trip fit into it, there’s no need to check-in anything. You may want a separate laptop bag or purse along with it, as an additional personal item is also allowed on board.
There are a few popular rolling upright carry on bags in this category that don’t make it onto this list for one reason. They weigh 7 pounds or more when empty. These days, some airlines restrict cabin bags not just in dimensions but also in weight. This varies by airline, but it ranges between 12 and 20 lbs, which is quite miserly because that leaves you with 5-13 lbs for your things! That’s why your empty luggage should not weigh more than it needs to. Another advantage is that petite women don’t have to worry about lifting a carry on into an overhead bin. Of course, if the other features appeal to you and you’re a light packer anyway, don’t let this stop you. They could still be very good for other travel, like road or train trips or even on flights with a more generous allowance.
Here’s a handy travel resource for baggage limits on various domestic and international airlines.
Most lightweight carry on luggage
IT Luggage World's Lightest New York 22"
Best high end lightweight travel bag on wheels
Tumi Latitude Continental Carry-On
SwissGear 7272 Energie 19"
Best lightweight 2 wheel luggage
Travelpro Maxlite 5 19"
Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 20"
What to Keep an Eye on When Buying Light Wheeled Carry On Luggage
- There maybe some carry on bags that weigh 5 pounds or less when empty but not all are very good. Very often they are made from inferior components and materials and won’t last very long. Therefore, we have only considered wheeled carry on bags that are constructed well and can handle more than just one or two trips a year. Even with this in mind we have tried to keep the lower limit for a full-sized carry on bag to around 7 lbs or less when we made our picks.
- Softsided carry on bags might be constructed from polyester instead of nylon or at least a blend in order to keep the overall weight down. Hardsided carry on bags may be constructed from ABS instead of polycarbonate for the same reason. Both these lighter materials are fine if you’re always going to handle the luggage yourself and take care of it, but they’re less durable and are not ideal if you have to check the bag in. Therefore, it’s best that you get a bag that’s within cabin size weight and dimension limits to avoid it being gate checked. Otherwise, stick with nylon and polycarbonate luggage.
- When light carry on uprights come with one or more front pockets, the design has to allow for anything heavy, like a laptop or large toiletry bag being placed there, otherwise the bag can tip forward. You don’t want the hassle of trying to pack so that this problem is avoided.
- Spinner wheels are popular because they make maneuvering easy and reduce the strain on your arm by a lot and are easier to wheel down the aisle in the plane or train. However, they do tend to reduce the height of the body of the carry on, which reduces overall packing capacity. They’re also not great if you have to wheel the bag over carpet or uneven terrain. On the other hand, two wheeled luggage is best if you plan to wheel it outside of airports, offices and hotels, and if you need that extra 1-2″ packing space that the lower chassis provides.
Keep in mind that some of the following bags are at or just under 22”, which is the maximum height for carry-ons on normal US domestic flights. For smaller aircraft and many international flights, you’ll need to keep the height under 20″, so we’ll give you options there as well.
If you’re not someone who needs to take lots of things with you on board, then a rolling tote bag may be the best option for you. You can also pair your regular carry on bag with a smaller personal item bag as well.
Here are the top rated lightweight carry on suitcases for frequent business travel or leisure travel categorized by price.
Lightweight Carry On Luggage Under 5 Lbs
IT Luggage World’s Lightest Los Angeles 22″ 2-Wheeled Carry on & New York Spinner Carry on
Want to know what the lightest carry on rolling luggage is? IT Luggage is a brand known for making super-light luggage and IT Luggage World’s Lightest Los Angeles 22″ rolling Carry on and IT Luggage World’s Lightest New York 22″ Spinner Carry on are a good bets from their lines.
While some would say that their check in size pieces are not the best for rough handling by baggage handlers, their carry on pieces are perfect for travel on airlines that are very stingy with weight allowances. These 2 and 4-wheeled pieces use light but strong components and intelligent design to draw travelers to them.
They’re available in several different colors. The 2-wheeled bag measures 21.8 x 14.2 x 7.3 inches including the wheels and handles, while the 4-wheeled one measures 22 x 14 x 9 inches. At 3.81 lbs and 4.07 lbs respectively, the two wheeled bag is the lightest cabin bag with wheels, and the latter is the lightest cabin luggage with 4 wheels.
The high tensile polyester shell is abrasion-resistant and durable enough for long term use. The exceptionally lightweight frame is made of tough fiberglass. There are two inline skate wheels on the rollaboard that rotate smoothly and work well over cobblestone streets. The design and positioning of the front legs keep the bag from tipping forward. The spinner has 8 multidirectional wheels for 360 degree maneuverability.
The extending handle is wide and extends out of the two rear corners of the bag instead of somewhere in the middle, so they don’t protrude into the inside of the bag or hinder packing. This also helps to keep the bag stable as you pull it behind you or push it in front of you. It is not telescopic, as it extends to its full height only and does not lock into place but is not loose enough to slide back down unless you push it in. The foam grip on the handle is also extra wide to provide a comfortable grip. The top carry handle is nicely padded and the one on the side features the same foam grip as on the telescopic handle.
The double zipper heads on the main compartment can be locked using your own luggage lock. The exterior front features an easy-access zippered pocket on top and another larger one below that.
The interior of the 2-wheeled suitcase features two rows of elastic top mesh pockets on the lid. The top row is more shallow and good for packing underwear, while the bottom row is deeper and good for shoes. A pair of elastic compression straps on the other side runs the length of the suitcase and are good at keeping more things securely in place. The spinner features one large zippered mesh compartment on the inside of the lid and a pair of compression straps running horizontally on the other side.
- Very light and very easy to move around, particularly for people who often struggle with handling luggage.
- Will be allowed as carry on for almost all domestic and international flights.
- The wide handle won’t allow you to slide another bag’s strap over it.
- The handle is a bit short for very tall people.
Lipault Paris Original Plume Spinner 55/20
Lipault spinners are a favorite among female travelers because of their ultralight weight, easy to handle construction and eye catching colors. The 20″ Lipault Paris Original Plume Spinner will stand out in a sea of luggage anywhere.
This lightweight cabin trolley is available in several different colors like black, duck blue, antique pink, amaranth ruby, saffron yellow, forest green and purple. There’s even a cool print and even the single caster spinner wheels match the color of the bag.
It is named by its size – Lipault Spinner 55/20, the first number being the height of the spinner in centimeters and the second is in inches. It measures 21.7″ x 15.0″ x 9.5″ and weighs 5 lbs.
The water-resistant 100% nylon bag is completely softsided, with the walls featuring padding and the bottom has a scrape guard for extra protection when pulling the bags over curbs and stairs.
In addition to padded grab handles on the top and side, the telescopic handle features two stop heights for comfort. It recedes into its own zippered pocket so that it’s out of the way during transit. In addition to setting the bags down upright they can be set on their side too, as there are four feet there to keep them from getting dirty or wet.
The zipper heads can accommodate any standard or TSA-approved luggage lock.
The fully lined interior features one long zippered pocket and restraining straps in the main compartment, while the inside of the lid features one large zippered pocket. The front exterior has one large zippered pocket too.
- This bag is very roomy because of its flexible sides.
- Will be accepted as carry on even on international and European flights.
- The flexible sides means that the top of the bag won’t support another bag resting on top of it very easily unless you pack something flat or stiff, like your shoes, right on top.
- Must be packed full to give it some structure.
More Lightweight Carry On Luggage with Spinner Wheels
Tumi Latitude Continental Carry-On
If you’re looking for the best high-end lightweight spinner carry on that comes with numerous functionality and durability features, look no further than the Tumi Latitude Continental Carry-On. Its dimensions are 21″ x 16″ x 9″ and it weighs 6 lbs 8.2 oz. This is impressive considering the all the extras you get. It is also Tumi’s lightest luggage.
The shell is made of SRPP BALLISTIC, a self-reinforced multilayer woven polypropylene that can withstand harsh climates and flexes and bends in response to high impacts. The wave design of the shell hides scratches effectively. The 3-stage telescopic handle system is made of aircraft-grade aluminum for impact absorption. The 4 spinner wheels are light and smooth-rolling. There are corner bumper guards for added protection and 4 feet on one long side to let you set the suitcase down horizontally if needed. There is a carry handle on the opposite side.
Where luggage zippers are usually vulnerable, the ones on this bag feature a patented Omega Closure System that reduces the risk of damage. These are locked by the integrated TSA combination lock.
The interior has two packing compartments, butterfly mesh tie-down straps, multiple zip pockets, and a hanger bracket to secure a suit or other formal garment on a hanger. The organizational features keep all items secure while traveling.
The bag comes with the Tumi Tracer program, where a 20 digit ID is attributed to every customer when a bag is bought and it goes into a database with the customer’s contact information to help trace lost luggage.
- Lots of extra features to enhance durability.
- Lots of organizational features.
- Only a 5 year warranty.
Samsonite Freeform Hardside Expandable
The presence of double spinner wheels and a fairly durable hard shell hasn’t made the Samsonite Freeform 21″ Carry-On heavy at all. What makes this so good is that Samsonite has focused on quality materials for the highest stress points in luggage – the shell, wheels and zippers, while not compromising on design.
At 21.25″ x 15.25″ x 10.0″ and 6.5 lbs, it’s not the lightest on this list, but if you want a suitcase that will last you for many years, then that extra pound or two isn’t a deal-breaker. It will fit into all domestic and international flight overhead bins. Check beforehand which international carriers will allow these dimensions. It also expands quite a bit in depth by simply releasing the expansion zipper all around.
It is available in 12 colors and comes with a 10-year warranty. The polypropylene shell with matte textured finish hides inevitable abrasions and scratches over time. Even the white option won’t look too dinged up after many trips.
The wheels are silent and smooth-rolling double spinner casters. There are 4 feet on one side if you need to set the bag down on its side. The wide but light integrated, multi-stage aluminum pull handle is fully recessed and extends to two height positions. The top and side carry handles are low profile.
It has a TSA-approved integrated 3-dial combination lock into which the zipper heads are inserted to sit flush with the case.
The inside of this clam-style suitcase features a full-sized zippered fabric divider to separate the lid section from the main section. Tie-down straps with extra give keep things secure in the main section and a small zippered mesh pocket attached to the outside of the divider is for small items.
- Will not tip over.
- Packs a lot.
- Very basic organizational features inside and none outside.
- Unlocking it the first time is not obvious.
While, this bag is not really worth the full price, if you’re looking for a light, durable, roomy and easy to manoeuvre hard shell carry on and don’t care about fancy pockets and compartments, this is the one to get if it’s under $100!
SwissGear Energie Hardside Expandable USB Compatible Carry On
If you want a step up from the Freeform by Samsonite, then SwissGear Energie Hardside Expandable 19″ USB Carry On is the luggage to look at. If comes with more features and is more durable but costs a little bit more. This is our pick for best mid-priced hard shell lightweight 4 wheel cabin suitcase.
This carry on measures 22.75 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches, including the wheels and handle, and comes in at 6.9 lbs. It will fit easily into all flight overhead bins. It can expand by 1.5 inches for larger bins or for non-overhead bin travel. You can get this in one of 4 colors.
The shell is made of very durable Makrolon polycarbonate material with a brushed textured finish that gives it a high end look. The top carry handle is well padded in case you have to lift to carry it for a few steps or down a staircase. The telescopic handle is a standard push button type. By far the best features here are the smoothest rolling 8 multi-directional spinner wheels. Customers have said that they wheel this suitcase on any surface and the handling is super easy with no danger of any of them breaking off. If anything does happen, it comes with a 10-year warranty.
It has a TSA-approved combination lock for security with easy-to-pull zippers for locking and for the expansion feature. The 50-50 split-style suitcase features 2 open-top stretch pockets for shoes and a mesh zippered accessories pocket on the fabric divider that separates the two halves. There are adjustable tie-down straps for the other half.
The extra feature on this carry on is the integrated USB external port that is internally connected to a mesh pocket inside the bag where you can keep your power bank for charging any electronics on the road. It uses a standard USB power pack.
- Has the best spinner wheels for smooth rolling.
- Good features for the price.
- No bottom or side handles.
B|Y by Bric’s Ulisse 21 Inch Expandable Spinner
The very European-looking Bric’s Ulisse 21 Inch Spinner is a winner for style and ease of use and may be the best lightweight carry on spinner for women. Made of polypropylene, this lightweight wheeled bag weighs 5.9 lbs and measures 21″ x 14″ x 9″ with an additional 1.5 inches in depth when expanded by just a pull of a zipper.
It is available in some chic colors and has matching wheel caps on its 8 multi-directional spinner wheels and its 3 stage telescopic handle is comfortable for all heights. The low profile top carry handle and integrated TSA-approved combination lock allows for a smaller bag to piggyback on top of it without tipping the suitcase over.
The interior is simple with just a large zippered mesh pocket on the fabric divider panel for the lid half and a small zippered pocket along one short side and restraining straps on the other half. It also comes with a shoe/laundry bag.
One nice extra feature is the USB port on the side and near the top. You can pack your own power bank in the suitcase and plug in your electronics with a USB cable for charging them on the go.
- Very well made.
- Easy to handle.
- No side or bottom handles.
Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 20″ 4 Wheel Upright
The Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4 Wheel Carry On is one of the best selling pieces of luggage on Amazon and it’s because it is inexpensive but good quality.
The carry on weighs 6.25 lbs and measures 21.75” H x 14.5” W x 8.5” D – good for most overhead bins.
- Very inexpensive.
- Easy to maneuver.
- Made of ABS.
- Scratches show up easily.
Aerolite Maximum Allowance Airline Approved Carryon
There’s only one hard shell spinner that’s airline approved for carry on and that’s the Aerolite Maximum Allowance Airline Approved Carryon. It is inexpensive, and with a 40 liter capacity, it is also very roomy. The low cost is because of the anti-scratch but less durable ABS material and the pretty basic features. It is fairly low weight at 6.17 lbs and its dimensions are 22″ x 14″ x 9″ inch.
You wouldn’t want to check this bag, but since it’s for carry on and does come with a 5 year warranty, it should hold up for occasional trips.
The 4 wheels are nicely elevated so as to not scrape the bottom of the bag on uneven terrain. The 3-step telescopic handle is made of aluminum and quite sturdy. There’s one low profile carry handle on the top.
It comes with a 3 digit combination barrel lock for the simple zipper heads but you can use your own if you prefer. It opens clam-style with a fabric zippered divider that features two elastic top shoe pockets and two mesh zippered pockets with restraining straps on the other half.
- Airline approved for carry on.
- Low cost.
- Plenty of pockets inside.
- Made of ABS.
- Doesn’t have an integrated TSA-approved lock.
Amazon Basics Softside Carry-On Spinner
For a no-frills, basic-looking and inexpensive carry on, the Amazon Basics Softside Carry-On Spinner should do the trick. Even though it doesn’t have too many features, there are two that are a nice surprise at this low price level – the spinner wheels and the expansion feature.
This bag measures 14.7 x 9 x 21 inches overall and weighs 5.51 lbs.
The 4 spinner wheels are set high so as to provide some good clearance for the bottom of the bag while wheeling it over rough terrain. The telescopic wheel handle extends and locks to its maximum height only, so it’s not ideal but you can extend it only partway and it will stay in place as long as you don’t push down on it. It is 43 inches from the floor to the handle when extended. It is long enough to easily accommodate another smaller bag on top of it. There are top and side carry handles for easy lifting into an overhead bin.
This softsided spinner can be expanded 25%, so when you’re not bound by carry on restrictions, this is a good wheeled bag to have. There’s a clever design element here. The case tapers and becomes less deep towards the top, so it’s less prone to tipping over. But the expansion feature offsets this by expanding toward the top, giving you a true rectangle when the extra packing space is needed. So the bag ends up self-balancing whichever way you use it.
There is a large exterior pocket on the front that can fit a laptop, although it only has a single zipper so it can’t be locked. The bag opens up book-style, like most soft-sided wheeled suitcases. The single main compartment features 3 zippered pockets and two horizontal restraining straps that have to be manually tightened.
It comes with a 3 year limited warranty.
- High ground clearance for cobblestone streets.
- The expansion feature is cleverly designed to prevent the case from tipping over.
- Telescopic handle locks into only its maximum extension height.
- Only available in black and navy blue.
Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Expandable Spinner Carry on 19 Inch and Upright Carry On 22 Inch
This lightweight hand luggage with wheels is one of the most popular pieces in its category on Amazon, and there’s little wonder why! There’s a reason why frequent travelers trust flight crews when it comes to luggage choice. Their bags have to take a daily beating, be versatile and enable them to move fast in airports and planes.
It’s not easy to find a roomy four-wheeled carry on these days but the advantage is that the 2″ tapered expansion feature allows you to pack a lot more clothes, and the bag’s own light weight of just 5.3 pounds, means it won’t be too heavy to wheel about or hoist into the overhead bin. Its overall dimensions are 21.75 x 15.75 x 7.75 inches, with a capacity of 39 Liters. It has been bin tested for international flights and will easily fit in most overhead bins if the expansion zipper is closed. This feature is most useful when you’re traveling on more forgiving domestic flights.
This expandable spinner carry on bag by Travelpro is the top rated among affordable lightweight and durable airline carry on luggage, and it is a no-frills, professional piece of luggage that doesn’t need to look boring if you pick one of the pretty colors. The entire Maxlite 5 collection is great for lightweight softside spinner luggage.
If you want even more packing space without additional weight, Maxlite 5 also has very good lightweight 2 wheel carry on luggage that weighs about the same.
- Available in several colors.
- The bottom expands more than the top, so it won’t topple over. This is also helped by a bottom tray design for added stability.
- This 100% polyester bag can be spot cleaned and is water and stain-repellent due to its Duraguard coating.
- For protection against travel damage, it features a bottom skid guard, wheel crash guards, and corner guards. The 4 spinner wheels rotate 360 degrees.
- The strong Powerscope telescopic handle extends at two stops, making it comfortable for people of different heights to wheel it along. The handle also features a contoured grip to make it easy on your hand if you want to pull it along behind you. A top and side carry handle in neoprene and a bottom handle wedge makes it easy to lift.
- The inside features a zippered mesh pocket, a full zippered lid flap, and tie-down straps with anti-break buckles to keep things organized and secure. The outside has two front pockets for last minute things like newspapers and snacks.
- Very lightweight – reviewers say it is very easy to lift into an overhead bin and rolls like a dream.
- Packs a lot and is always allowed as carry on for domestic and international flights.
- The long handle makes it comfortable even for tall people.
- It is prone to tipping over if the front external pockets are stuffed or if you slip a tote over its telescopic handle.
More Lightweight Luggage with Inline Wheels
Osprey Ozone Wheeled Carry-on 42L/21.5″
Looking for a carry-on that’s good for leisure and adventure travel? The Ozone Wheeled Carry-on 42L/21.5″ from Osprey fits the bill. Not too rugged looking, a style savvy person could easily use this for versatility. Osprey’s expertise in durable luggage for adventure travel is in full view with this bag.
This monopole handle two-wheeled carry on is part of a very popular collection that we have reviewed separately, so we won’t go into all the details again. What you should know about the 21.5″ carry on is that it measures 21.7″ x 14.2″ x 9.1″ and weighs just 4.5 lbs. It comes with several organizational features without them adding to the overall weight.
- Rolls nicely with a sturdy frame.
- Allows you to pack a lot more than expected without going overboard.
- Backed by Osprey’s lifetime All Mighty Guarantee
- Could use some external lash points or bungee cord.
Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Softside 2-Wheel Rolling Carry Luggage
A slightly less expensive alternative to the Ozone is the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Softside Carry Luggage. It measures 14 x 22 x 9 (10.5 when expanded) inches and weighs 5 lbs 03 oz. It is available in 3 colors.
This lightweight rolling luggage is a more rugged choice for wheeling about, as the inline wheels are large with deep treads and they’re set in protective housing on either side of a strong kick plate. There are reinforced corners for the other high impact points. The bag is made of 100% recycled PET ripstop fabric and the high-wear areas are reinforced with a laminated exoskeleton.
There are handles everywhere – top, bottom, side, and front. The telescopic monopole handle extends from inside the bag and retracts back into its zippered pocket for protection in case you need to check it in before a flight. There is a bit of wobble in its fully extended position, but it is strong otherwise. There are two pairs of external compression straps to keep the bag secure and compact.
There are plenty of pockets and compartments on this 39 liter bag. It’s easy to access your belongings since the Warrior’s front-loading expandable main compartment unzips completely to reveal a cavernous interior. Winged compression straps keep everything neat and tidy. The inside of the lid features a zippered mesh pocket and the exterior front of the bag has a padded tablet pocket with double zippers. A 3-1-1 pocket on top with a key fob is perfect for storing your liquids bag for easy security checks. Both the main and front compartment zippers can be locked to the central lock point using your own luggage lock.
If there’s one drawback here it’s that the overall packing volume is difficult to utilize fully and if the bag is packed full, the zippers aren’t so easy to close.
An Equipment Keeper attachment is meant for holding jackets or other gear to the top of the bag and the Porter Key bottle opener attachment is another neat extra for when you get thirsty just about anywhere.
You also get a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects or product failure.
- Lots of well designed pockets.
- Lots of handles for transport.
- Large wheels for handling on uneven terrain.
- Gives you less usable packing space overall.
- Not very easy to zip shut when full.
Most US domestic airlines don’t have a weight limit for carry on luggage, only a dimensions limits. However, the rule is that you must be able to lift your carry on into the overhead compartment by yourself or it should be small enough to stow under the seat in front of you.
Some international airlines do have a weight restriction for cabin bags and a few even weigh yours at the gate. If it goes over the limit they can ask you to gate check it and pay the checked bag fee if there is one.
Almost all airlines allow a personal item that should go under the seat in addition to your carry on.
While it is rare for gate check agents to weigh carry on bags, it does sometimes happen at many international airports, especially if you’re flying to Asian destinations. Many non-US airlines do specify a carry on weight limit so it is possible that an agent will want to weigh your bag, especially if a flight is full.
IT Luggage’s Los Angeles two-wheeled softside carry on is the world’s lightest. It weighs an astonishing 3.81 lbs only and is made of polyester with a fiberglass frame.